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What do reactions to ChatGPT tell us?

By December 15, 2022No Comments

By Christian Talbot, President of MSA-CESS

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke quipped that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Two weeks ago, OpenAI released a technology that some consider magical: a public beta version of ChatGPT, an “AI chatbot.”

On Twitter, I have noticed three types of reactions:

  • “It will never replace teaching kids to write [or other humanities skills].”
  • “This is going to change everything!” (for the better).
  • “This is going to change everything!” (for the worse).

It’s too early to tell how the education landscape will evolve in response to ChatGPT, but educators should begin to consider three pathways outlined by Justine Moore:

1 Schools adjust assignments to prevent the use of AI. Take-home work largely disappears. Class time is used for proctored essays, problem sets, and exams. Homework time is spent learning asynch via video – a “flipped classroom” model.

2 Schools embrace AI. Students will use AI in real life. Why make them do things the “old fashioned way” at school? Instead, lessons will incorporate AI – teaching students how to write prompts, analyze outputs, and edit as needed.

3 Schools learn to audit AI. In this case, AI assistance is viewed like plagiarism. Educators learn how to detect it, and have policies in place to downgrade or disqualify assignments.

Middle States will be keeping a close eye on ChatGPT, related technologies, and their impact on learning. We are also hoping to invite a subject matter expert to join us on a webinar for members. Stay tuned.

We seem to be at the threshold of a “before and after” moment. Given OpenAI’s plan for a 2023 release of an update that is an order of magnitude more powerful, “after” might come more quickly than we expect. 

As the old chestnut goes, change happens gradually, then all at once.

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